The 18th Annual Food Safety Summit, held May 10–12 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, attracted nearly 1,700 registered food-safety professionals, a 12 percent increase in registered attendees from 2015, and more than 200 exhibiting companies, a 20 percent increase from last year’s event. During the three-day event, food-safety professionals discussed the most pressing issues facing the food industry including Listeria, implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and integration of the nation’s food safety system.
“We thank our educational advisory board, who developed a stellar conference program, as well as our sponsors, who helped to support this dynamic conference and all of our exhibitors, speakers and attendees,” says Scott Wolters, director for the Food Safety Summit, a BNP Media event. “We heard from so many people during the three-day event how important it is to participate in the Food Safety Summit to gather tools for today and make plans for tomorrow.”
The event kicked off on May 9 with three certification programs: Preventive Controls for Human Foods by Donna Schaffner, Rutgers Food Innovation Center; Food Safety Auditor Training by Patricia Wester of PA Wester Consulting; and Seafood HACCP by National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
On Tuesday, May 10, conference attendees participated in the 2nd Annual AFDO Integration Forum, hosted by Joe Corby of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO). In addition, there were workshops on Process Validation, Prerequisite Programs and the Food Safety Professionals Road Map to Success. The Welcome Reception, sponsored by Roka BioScience, offered attendees an opportunity to network with 202 vendors, a 20 percent increase in companies that showcased specialty products and services designed to help food safety professionals do their job more effectively and efficiently.
Major leaders in the industry presented in the conference program including senior executives from FDA, McDonald’s, Wegmans Food Markets and Reser’s Fine Foods, who shared their insights on the future of the food-safety environment during the opening-day keynote presentation. The summit closed with the Hot Topic Session, which provided attendees an opportunity to discuss some of the most pressing legal issues facing the industry with Bill Marler, Marler Clark; Jeffrey Steger, U.S. Department of Justice; Shawn Stevens, Food Industry Counsel; and Dane Bernard. The session was moderated by Coral Beach, managing editor, Food Safety News.
During the 5th Annual Town Hall FDA’s Mike Taylor, USDA’s David Goldman, Corby and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Robert Tauxe discussed how the agencies are working together on food-safety initiatives and new developments, such as whole genome sequencing, which will have a revolutionary impact on the industry. The Town Hall was moderated by Gary Ades, President, G&L Consulting, and chairman of the Summit Educational Advisory Board.
Prior to the Town Hall, Shelly Feist, Partnership for Food Safety, presented the 13th Annual NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards. The 2016 NSF Food Safety Leadership Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to John N. Butts, Ph.D., vice president, research, Land O’ Frost, and president, Food Safety by Design LLC; and Purnendu C. Vasavada, Ph.D., professor emeritus (retired), University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The 2016 NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Training and Education was presented to Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., professor and extension food safety specialist, University of Georgia, Department of Foods and Nutrition.
On Wednesday evening, May 11, attendees enjoyed the Food Safety Summit Gives Back Networking Reception to benefit Feeding America. Chuck Wilson of BNP Media presented Mitzi Baum, director of Food Safety for Feeding America with a donation of $5,550 to help provide 64,000 meals on behalf of the sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and attendees.
In addition, Sani Professional Food Safety Advisory Council presented the 2016 Sani Awards. R&DE Stanford Dining of Stanford University, Stanford, CA, won the award for Outstanding Food Safety Program Innovation. The Sani Award for Exceptional Food Safety Education and/or Training Program Implementation was presented to Lindsay Westcott Waffle House Inc., Norcross, GA.
On the trade show floor, 202 exhibiting companies, including Gold sponsor Roka Bioscience, Silver sponsor Alchemy Systems and Bronze sponsor Eurofins met with attendees to showcase new products and services. Two full days of exhibitor presentations were offered in the Exhibitor Showcase Theatres. Exhibitor showcase presentations were given by Lubriplate, Sani Professional, ReposiTrak, NAStar Inc., Roka Bioscience, ComplianceMetrix, Anritsu Infivis Inc., ACO Polymer Products, Art's-Way Scientific, Micreos, WDS Inc., Kestrel Management and Mettler Toledo.
Plans are already underway for the 2017 Food Safety Summit, which will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center May 9–11, with pre-conference certification courses starting on May 8. In the meantime, BNP Media will sponsor the 7th Annual Food Safety Summit Resource Center at Pack Expo, Nov. 6-9 at McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago.
For more information, about the 2017 Food Safety Summit, call Chuck Wilson at 630-962-0078, visit www.foodsafetysummit.com, or follow the summit on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.